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I have been studying the Godhead
in my own 2013 Doctrine and Principle Study Guide and I was reminded of a post I did awhile back. So I am freshening it up a bit since I think a lot of you may be teaching about the nature of the Godhead this Sunday.
One day, years ago, I was at a seminary meeting where Elder Ballard was speaking to us – and he said something that I will never, ever forget. He said, “If my grandchild were in your classroom, there is one thing I would want to be certain that you taught them….” Now pause, for a moment – before he finished that statement, I remember being so impacted by it. He was making our classroom personal to someone that he cared deeply about, so I knew he was going to say something that I should heed. So, I was on the edge of my chair and ready to learn whatever he was going to say. He finished that sentence by saying, “I would want you to teach them that they are children of God.” Oh. Ok. I’d expected something different. They already knew that, didn’t they? Isn’t that one of the first things they learned? It is primary.
I now admit that I was a bit naive. I have, and am still, learning the depth of what he said.
Knowing, truly knowing that you are a child of God is a profound thing.
And when someone “gets” it, it will show in everything they do. You shouldn’t have to ask them if they know who they are, but they will show you. They will show you by the things they talk about, by the way they spend their time, by how they dress, how they use their talents, what jokes they laugh at, how they plan their future, how they treat their enemy, and what their enemy really is. They will know that their potential is the same as your potential, and they will treat you that way.
Knowing as much as we can about God, about who He is in every way, will only teach us about ourselves.
And then perhaps we will not only believe, but trust, that we can develop those same attributes – and in fact, that it is expected of us to do so. And that whenever we doubt ourselves, we are doubting that we can become like Him, which is doubting His power, and His creations, and the power of the Atonement. It seems so en vogue to be self critical, and to say that we aren’t good at something – and we call that humility. But, perhaps, that is actually pride, and humility is recognizing who we are, and what we can become.
If we want our children to do great things – then we must try our best to teach them who they are. We must seek to teach them that they are children of an Omnipotent, All-powerful God, and that they are made in His image. And that as they learn about who He is, that as they develop those same attributes in themselves, there will be no limit to their growth. Only Eternal growth. Teach them the Eternal value of education, of self-discipline, of endurance – and all those things that we want our children to become, will come, and they will come in God’s way. And it will come more quickly and more correctly than any other way, because it will come through the Spirit.
Do your children understand why some people don’t consider Mormons to be Christians?
It is because of something called the Nicene Creed. It was written in 325 AD, and we do not agree with it statement. This creed is a statement of belief and it states that the Godhead consists of one being that has three separate aspects, or roles. After the Apostles had all been killed, the Church as an organization remained, but the Gospel of Christ – including the Priesthood Authority – was no longer part of that Church. And with no prophet to guide, their arose some disagreements concerning some of the doctrines – one of them being the nature of the Godhead, whether it was three separate and distinct beings, or if it was one single being with three roles. Constantine, the emperor of Rome, called together the leadership of the Catholic Church to a place called Nicea – and there they held a council to determine the nature of the Godhead. It was two months of bitter debate, and in the end a vote was cast, and the majority decided that the Godhead was one being rather than three. And that creed, in someway, is part of all Christian churches. So some will hold that if you do not accept that creed, you cannot be a Christian.
Ponder to yourself, what that one decision did to the Plan of Salvation, and to your understanding of who you are, your relationship to God, and your ultimate potential. That creed made God into an essence, and not a literal man, but rather a power that came to earth as a man in the form of Jesus Christ. Read the creed, it is confusing. But it is clear that changing that one doctrine would confuse mankind of who they are, and therefore that was a good day for the Devil and his associates. That day took away something precious from mankind, it took away their chance to know and use the phrase “Father”, with the One who chooses, out of all of His titles, to be called That. And it took away what it means to be made in His image.
So when a young fourteen-year-old boy saw two personages in that Sacred Grove, he undid over 1,000 years of a major doctrinal mistake. He learned visually, a precious truth that mankind had lost, and that truth was finally restored. He saw two separate men. And they introduced themselves so there was no misunderstanding for him or for us who have read his account, and perhaps he learned something he had never considered because nobody was teaching it. And then when he would speak with Moroni, he learned again, the reality of the Resurrection, and in someone who was not a member of the Godhead. But a man, a fellow child of God, who was literally in God’s image, and in His image after this life as well. Moroni made it clear, he taught Joseph by simply wearing a loose fitting robe. He showed him the doctrine of the Resurrection before Joseph understood all the deep doctrines.
We don’t have to wait until our children are grown and educated to teach them these truths.
It was among the first things Joseph ever learned, and it was foundational.
Here are some quotes about Heavenly Father, as well as some about the Nicene Creed. It could make some wonderful discussion for your family or class.
And to come full circle. A few years ago I was speaking at an EFY session down at BYU, and my topic was on being Children of God and what that means. So I told them the story of Elder Ballard and what he said and the impact it had on me. And then I did my best to teach them something about that. After that hour was over, I had a lovely young woman approach me, and she said, “I am Elder Ballard’s granddaughter.” Whoa. That was a moment for me.
Here is the printout:
And if that doesn’t work for you, then here are the quotes:
The Creed of Nicea:
This was the original Nicene Creed. It was revised and finalized at the Council of Constantinople in 381…
We believe in one God the Father All-sovereign, maker of all things. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, only-begotten, that is, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father, through whom all things were made, things in heaven and things on the earth; who for us men and for our salvation came down and was made flesh, and became man, suffered, and rose on the third day, ascended into the heavens, and is coming to judge living and dead. And in the Holy Spirit. And those that say ‘There was when he was not,’ and, ‘Before he was begotten he was not,’ and that, ‘He came into being from what-is-not,’ or those that allege, that the son of God is ‘Of another substance or essence’ or ‘created,’ or ‘changeable’ or ‘alterable,’ these the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes.
President Hinckley about the Nicene Creed:
For centuries men gathered and argued concerning the nature of Deity. Constantine assembled scholars of various factions at Nicaea in the year 325. After two months of bitter debate, they compromised on a definition which for generations has been the doctrinal statement among Christians concerning the Godhead.
I invite you to read that definition and compare it with the statement of the boy Joseph. He simply says that God stood before him and spoke to him. Joseph could see Him and could hear Him. He was in form like a man, a being of substance. Beside Him was the resurrected Lord, a separate being, whom He introduced as His Beloved Son and with whom Joseph also spoke.
I submit that in the short time of that remarkable vision Joseph learned more concerning Deity than all of the scholars and clerics of the past.
Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Great Things Which God Has Revealed,” Liahona, May 2005, 80–83
Elder M. Russell Ballard on the Nicene Creed:
History tells us, for example, of a great council held in a.d. 325 in Nicaea. By this time Christianity had emerged from the dank dungeons of Rome to become the state religion of the Roman Empire, but the church still had problems—chiefly the inability of Christians to agree among themselves on basic points of doctrine. To resolve differences, Emperor Constantine called together a group of Christian bishops to establish once and for all the official doctrines of the church.
Consensus did not come easily. Opinions on such basic subjects as the nature of God were diverse and deeply felt, and debate was spirited. Decisions were not made by inspiration or revelation, but by majority vote, and some disagreeing factions split off and formed new churches. Similar doctrinal councils were held later in a.d. 451, 787, and 1545, with similarly divisive results.
The beautiful simplicity of Christ’s gospel was under attack from an enemy that was even more destructive than the scourges and the crosses of early Rome: the philosophical meanderings of uninspired men. The doctrine became based more on popular opinion than on revelation. This period of time was called the Dark Ages. They were dark largely because the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ had been lost. (Elder M. Russell Ballard, Ensign, Nov 1994, 65-67)
How Familiar Heavenly Father is to us:
“If any of us could now see the God we are striving to serve – if we could see our Father who dwells in the Heavens, we should learn that we are as well acquainted with him as we are with our earthly father, and he would be as familiar to us in the expression of his countenance and we should be ready to embrace him and fall upon his neck and kiss him, if we had the privilege. And still we, unless the vision of the Spirit is opened to us, know nothing about God. You know much about him, if you but realize it. And there is no other one item that will so astound you, when your eyes are opened in eternity, as to think that you were so stupid in the body.” (Brigham Young, JD 8:30)
Importance of Knowing the Character of God
“It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings, p.345)
Heavenly Father is an Exalted Man
“God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder Heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible – I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form – like yourselves in all the person, image and very form as a man.” (Joseph Smith, HC, 6:305)
Nothing is going to startle us more…
“And now we’re here – our memories are veiled – and we’re showing God and ourselves what we can do. And nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar his face is to us.” (President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, Dec 1988, p.6)
“We know, because the Lord has revealed it in this our day, that we are the spirit children of an exalted, glorified being, a holy man who has a body of flesh and bones and who is our Father in Heaven.
“We know that the name of the kind of life he lives is Eternal Life and that it consists of living in the family unit and of possessing all power, all might, and all dominion.” (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Ensign, Nov 1976, p.106)
We are his child all of the time
“You are His child all the time, not just when you are good, you are his child when you are bad. You have within you a portion of Divinity that is real and tremendous and marvelous and wonderful.” (President Gordon B. Hinckley)
God is Cheerful
“I am perfectly satisfied that my Father and my God is a cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good-natured being. Why? Because I am cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good-natured when I have his Spirit. That is one reason why I know; and another is – the Lord said, through Joseph Smith, ‘I delight in a glad heart and a cheerful countenance.’ That arises from the perfection of His attributes; He is a jovial, lively person, and a beautiful man.” (Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, Volume 4:222)
You will be sorry you didn’t try harder
“Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles tells us a tender personal story that makes this point in a penetrating way. When he was a teenager his family moved from a very comfortable environment for young Elder Eyring to a location that was not to his liking. He sulked for a bit until the Spirit spoke directly to him about who he was in God’s plan and how we out to proceed. One day the Spirit instructed, ‘When you find out who you are, you will be sorry you didn’t try harder.’ I suspect this spiritual admonition for more diligent effort is probably appropriate for most of us. The Lord will lead us in our particular role if we will seek and follow His guidance.”
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